Category Archives: Fire Updates

El Dorado Fire Burns 18,506 Acres, 63 Percent Contained | Corona, CA

INLAND EMPIRE, CA — Crews brought containment on the massive El Dorado Fire to 63 percent by Wednesday night, but thousands of evacuations were in place with 26,031 structures still threatened, fire officials said.

The “very dynamic” blaze had consumed 18,506 acres and injured 12 people, officials reported. More than 1,300 firefighting personnel are assigned to the blaze that has destroyed four homes and six outbuildings. It has damaged two other homes and six outbuildings, Cal Fire said.

“… great work by firefighting resources assigned to the El Dorado Fire continued today,” officials said Wednesday night. “The fire slowly backed down at low intensity into a retardant line placed along Hwy. 38 in the vicinity of Angelus Oaks. Ground crews were able to directly attack the fire utilizing hose lines to protect the community.”

A high-pressure weather system was in place Wednesday, causing hot and dry conditions, according to Cal Fire.

Evacuation orders remained in effect for: Mountain Home Village, Forest Falls, Angelus Oaks and Seven Oaks. Big Bear residents are not under evacuation but are asked to remain alert and watch updated orders.

Fire officials are asking evacuated residents to remain patient as crews continue to work in their neighborhoods. A Red Cross evacuation center is located at the Redlands East Valley High School, 31000 E. Colton Ave. in Redlands. Highway 38 is closed between Bryant St. to the south and Onyx Summit to the north.

Smoke from the El Dorado, Bobcat and Valley fires is impacting Inland Empire air quality. A Daily Smoke Report issued by the Wildland Fire Air Quality Program is available, and residents can also visit www.airnow.gov for air quality updates in their area. Most of Riverside County is forecast to have unhealthful air quality on Wednesday, officials said.

Cal Fire officials said the brusher was sparked Sept. 5 by a smoke-emitting firework used at a gender-reveal gathering of family members at El Dorado Ranch Park in Yucaipa. Record heat and dry conditions helped the fire quickly spread north to the Yucaipa Ridge, fire officials said.

The Desert Sun reported that the family who planned the small gathering was cooperating with authorities and that no charges have been filed yet.

Fire officials told the publication that the family called 911 after trying to extinguish the blaze themselves. They remained on the scene until firefighters arrived according to the report.Cal Fire Capt. Bennet Milloy said the blaze remains under investigation.

“Those responsible for starting fires due to negligence or illegal activity can be held financially responsible and criminally responsible,” CalFire officials said Sunday.

Milloy said investigators are testing the mechanism used at the family gathering to see if it’s considered a “safe and sane” firework. But he said “safe and sane” pyrotechnic devices are illegal in Yucaipa.

For more information about fire updates, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

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What Is a Fire Tornado? | Corona, CA

Now that we are in the midst of wildfire season, it is time we begin to brace for the worst the season has to offer. So far, 100,000 acres have been burned in this season throughout the states of California, Oregon and Colorado alone. And as if we don’t have enough to worry about, now we have fire tornadoes to worry about. Yes, as with everything else happening this year, wildfire season has brought with it fire tornadoes.

A phenomenon that is quite rare in its existence, fire tornadoes, or firenados for short, are pyrocumulonimbus clouds that forms from intense rising heat. This fire begins to pull in smoke and other debris and creates a vortex above the fire. It is as frightening as it sounds, folks.

A firenado was created in the Loyalton fire up north and kicked up to an excess of 60 mph. Back in 2018, a firenado killed a firefighter and a bulldozer driver in the fire up in Carr, CA. When comparing the damage of a firenado to a regular one, the equivalent was staggering – it would’ve taken a tornado with winds in excess of 143 mph to inflict the same amount of damage. So yes, they truly are very deadly and something to be aware of as we progress through the season.

2020 has been quite the year and we’re just over halfway done. Take care of yourselves out there. The heat is both draining to our bodies but dries out our surroundings as well. Keep an eye out for fire hazards around you and stay hydrated.

For more information about fire tornadoes, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

CJ Suppression proudly serves Corona, CA and all surrounding areas.

Dam Fire 40% Contained After Charring 217 Acres Above Azusa; Battle Continues Amid Heatwave | Corona, CA

by Nisha Gutierrez-Jaime

Posted: Jul 31, 2020 / 10:22 AM PDT / Updated: Jul 31, 2020 / 11:47 AM PDT

Despite blazing temperatures and difficult terrain, firefighters have increased containment on the Dam Fire which has burned more than 200 acres in the mountains north of Azusa, officials said Friday. The wildfire erupted Thursday afternoon around 1:45 p.m. in the 9500 block of North San Gabriel Canyon Road, near Morris Dam in the Angeles National Forest, the Los Angeles County Fire Department reported.

As of Friday morning, the Dam Fire had burned 217 acres and was 40% contained. Firefighters are continuing to aggressively work on gaining the upper hand despite sweltering temperatures.

“The combination of hot temperatures, low relative humidities, locally gusty winds, and drying fuels will bring elevated fire weather conditions to the Dam Fire burn area today,” officials said on the wildfire’s InciWeb page.

More than 250 firefighters from several agencies responded to the wildfire to battle it from the ground. Video from Sky5 also showed aerial units dousing the flames with water from above. Nearby residents could hear the planes working overhead throughout the afternoon.

The fire grew quickly on Thursday afternoon, resulting in mandatory evacuations and road closures.

Mandatory evacuations were ordered around 4 p.m. for those in the area north of Morris Dam to Crystal Lake. Camp sites and recreation areas in the surrounding areas are also off limits.

“They are not typical residential evacuations ion that we typically see during these big wildfires,” Marc Peebles of the U.S. Forest Service told KTLA. “There are some special use cabins up there and I believe one of them had people in it, so they evacuated the folks out of there.”

Highway 39 was closed to all traffic at Old San Gabriel Canyon Road, as well as East Fork Road. The Azusa Police Department said the closures would be in effect through at least Sunday. Non-residents were not being allowed to go past El Encanto Restaurant. In addition to the heatwave, rockslides have also made the situation difficult on crews.

“As the slopes burn it loses the ability to hold back those heavy rocks, so we have had several rockslides that have come down on the roadways so CalTrans is here working with us,” Peebles said.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District issued a smoke advisory in effect through Friday afternoon due to the Dam Fire as winds were expected to come from the southwest, which could push smoke to the northeast, toward Wrightwood and Mount Baldy. The cause of the wildfire remains under investigation.

|UPDATE| #DamFire Despite hot temperatures and steep terrain, your #AngelesNF firefighters were able to grow the containment to 40%. Overnight, we mapped the fire at 217 acres. pic.twitter.com/4iGsqJ2VBl

— Angeles_NF (@Angeles_NF) July 31, 2020

ANF Fire Chief Robert Garcia; “A very robust air and ground attack is holding back further spread. But tough days ahead in some of the steepest terrain in the Angeles, combined with a heat wave of 100-degrees-plus. Please give thanks to your firefighters.” #DamFire. Photo #air7hd pic.twitter.com/Q51kVvMJUv

— Angeles_NF (@Angeles_NF) July 31, 2020

**HWY 39 WILL BE CLOSED TO ALL TRAFFIC ** through at least Sunday. Please stay away from the area as non residents will not be allowed to continue beyond El Encanto Restaurant.#azusa #CityofAzusa #AzusaPD #fire #lafd #firefighters #canyon #roadclosed

— Azusa Police (@AzusaPD) July 31, 2020

For more information about summertime fire safety, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

CJ Suppression proudly serves Corona, CA and all surrounding areas.

East Contra Costa Fire Urges Vigilance in Preventing Fires and Injuries Over 4th of July Holiday | Corona, CA

Press Release by ECT -Jun 26, 2020

Brentwood, CA — As we roll into the Fourth of July, hot, dry and windy conditions are once again expected and ECCFPD is asking everyone to do their part in preventing fires and injuries caused by fireworks. NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) states that throughout the nation over the last several years that approximately half of the reported fires on the Fourth of July were started by fireworks.

“Because our first priority is the safety of our community, it’s important to remind people what a fire-safe 4th of July means,” said ECCFPD Fire Chief Brian Helmick.

Contra Costa County (and Fire District) is a “fireworks-free-zone”; therefore, the possession or use of fireworks of all types and sizes (including Safe and Sane fireworks) are banned in the county and the Fire District (County Ordinance 44-2.002 and East Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Ordinance 5601.1.3). The District includes the cities of Brentwood and Oakley Discovery Bay, Bethel Island, Knightsen, Byron, Marsh Creek, and Morgan Territory.

“Compounded by the Fire District’s underfunded resources we need to do everything we can to prevent and protect against the threat of fires to our communities”, Fire Marshal Steven Aubert added, “Fire Service personnel will be out enforcing these laws with our allied Police agencies”, he said.  Any person who starts a fire from fireworks – even accidentally – can be held liable for the fire suppression costs as well as property damage costs.

Possession of illegal fireworks that explode, go into the air, or move on the ground in an uncontrollable manner can lead to a possible fine of up to $50,000 as well as prison time or jail for up to one year.

“We appreciate that everyone wants to celebrate the Independence Day holiday.  We just ask everyone to please avoid the temptation of putting yourself and your neighbors at risk.” Fire Marshall Aubert stated.

The District wishes everyone a fun and safe 4th of July holiday!

Learn more at www.eccfpd.org.

For more information about 4th of July fire safety, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

CJ Suppression proudly serves Corona, CA and all surrounding areas.

11 Firefighters Hurt in Downtown L.A. Explosion that Caused Fires at Several Buildings | Corona, CA

Embedded video

By LIAM DILLONBEN WELSHMAY 16, 20207:02 PM UPDATED MAY 16, 2020 | 10:22 PM

An explosion in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday caused a large fire that left 11 firefighters injured, authorities said.

Firefighters first received a call about 6:30 p.m. about a structure fire in the 300 block of Boyd Street south of Little Tokyo, said Erik Scott, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department.

While firefighters were inside attempting to find the source of the blaze, there was “a significant explosion, very high, very wide, rumbling the entire area,” Scott said. The explosion was so powerful that it blackened a fire engine parked across the street and melted the helmets of some firefighters, he said.

Eleven firefighters were receiving treatment for burn injuries, Scott said. All were taken to County-USC Medical Center. At a news conference at the hospital late Saturday night, Mayor Eric Garcetti said three of the firefighters sustained critical but not life-threating injuries. All were expected to survive.

“We’ve been saying for the last two months even more than usual how much we appreciate our medical personnel and first responders,” Garcetti said. “Tonight I’m doubly and deeply grateful for the both of them.”

Scott said more than 240 firefighters had responded to the blaze before it was extinguished shortly after 8 p.m. An initial investigation of the scene identified the business as Smoke Tokes, a warehouse distributor with supplies for butane hash oil, he said. The cause of the fire has not been determined.

“It’s very tough to see our brothers and sisters go through something like this,” Scott said.

He described how several firefighters were inside the building and on the roof fighting the initial blaze when the explosion occurred, causing a tremendous roar that arriving personnel described as sounding like “a freight train or a jet engine.”

A massive ball of flame erupted out of the building, Scott said. Firefighters ran “straight through that ball of flame to get to safety across the street,” he said.

Major fire in Little Tokyo/downtown Los Angeles at San Pedro and Third. Dangerously close to Skid Row residents, senior and low income housing. Major smoke screen, ash is raining for blocks.

Jeralyn Cleveland was celebrating a family birthday party on the roof of the 13-story apartment building she manages three blocks away when she saw the explosion.

“Everyone in my building thought there was a bomb that went off,” said Cleveland, 37. “It was like a mushroom.”

Cleveland said there are small fires all the time in the neighborhood, which borders skid row, but she had never seen anything like this before.

For more information about fire updates, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

CJ Suppression proudly serves Corona, CA and all surrounding areas.

Fire Heavily Damages Two Downtown Natchitoches Businesses | Corona, CA

NATCHITOCHES, La. — Natchitoches firefighters and first responders responded to a fire in downtown Natchitoches Thursday morning. The fire on the north end of Front Street heavily damaged Mayeaux’s and All Tangled Up salon. Residents in the nearby apartments were alerted and were on standby in the event the fire spread, the Natchitoches Times reported. There were no evacuations. The fire department was able to keep the fire contained.

The Natchitoches Parish Journal shared dramatic video with KTBS 3 of the desperate attempts to extinguish the fire.

Natchitoches Fire Chief John Wynn said they received the call at 5:34 a.m. from the city police.

“We got on scene and made attack, and evidently it looks like it had been burning for a time. That’s about all we know right now until we can make further access inside,” Wynn told the Natchitoches Times. “All of our units are on scene and we called District 6 to come help us supplement water from their truck.”

He said the point of origin will possibly be determined once they make entry and conduct their investigation. “We have to get crews inside to see,” Wynn said.

Wynn said there were no known injuries to the public or his firemen and women as of 8:45 a.m.

For more information about fire suppression, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

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How the Coronavirus Pandemic Is Crippling California’s Efforts to Prevent Catastrophic Wildfires | Corona, CA

Kurtis Alexander March 25, 2020 Updated: March 25, 2020 9:04 a.m.

California’s ability to prepare for a dry and potentially dangerous fire season this year is being crippled as the coronavirus pandemic prompts fire agencies across the West to cancel or delay programs aimed at preventing catastrophic wildfire. From clearing out undergrowth in forests to training firefighters to tamp out flames, local, state and federal fire forces are trying to move forward within new social distancing guidelines, as well as with potentially sick employees, but that’s making their work harder and sometimes impossible to do.

The U.S. Forest Service, which oversees more than half of California’s wildlands, announced last week that it was suspending all prescribed burns, one of the most effective tools for increasing California’s resiliency to fire. The state’s Cal Fire agency, meanwhile, says it won’t halt its vegetation management activities — at least at this point — but it is rethinking how, when and where they’re done.

Spring fire preparations are considered vital to readying California for the warmer, drier summer and fall. Wildfire experts worry that disruptions caused by the coronavirus outbreak will not only increase the fire threat in the coming months but also sap momentum from a yearslong effort to make sure the state can weather the types of mega-fires recently seen in Butte County and Wine Country.

“If we don’t increase prescribed fire, restoration thinning and managed wildfire, we will never get out of our current forest problems,” said Scott Stephens, a professor of fire science at UC Berkeley. “Suspending prescribed fire further puts us in a hole in terms of long-term activities to increase forest resilience to climate change, wildfire and drought.”

Officials with the U.S. Forest Service, which oversees the nation’s largest firefighting force, said they were halting their burn program indefinitely so that communities wouldn’t have to deal with smoke during new shelter-in-place orders as well as for the safety of employees. About 5,000 Forest Service firefighters work in California.

Those conducting prescribed burns routinely travel in groups to burn sites, often across long distances. The work itself is done in crews of up to 20 members. Health experts have advised people to stay at least 6 feet away from others to prevent spread of the highly contagious coronavirus, and the White House has issued guidelines discouraging gatherings of more than 10.

The suspension of the burn program comes as the federal government, in concert with states like California, was beginning to initiate new, aggressive goals for prescribed fire in response to deadly blazes like the 2018 Camp Fire, which killed 85 people. Such infernos have helped put a spotlight on the perilous, overgrown condition of the nation’s forests, and burning off the thick brush and dead trees has proved a cost-effective solution.

“A lot of people were looking forward to this year being a ramping up of prescribed fire,” said Malcolm North, a professor of plant sciences at UC Davis who works with the U.S. Forest Service in the Sierra Nevada. “My concern now is that we’re going to be more reactive to fire than proactive.”

In response to the pandemic, the U.S. Forest Service has also called off in-person fire training through at least April 3 and canceled meetings where planning and risk assessment is done for fire season.

Like many businesses, the federal agency has moved many work discussions and training sessions online. However, surveying the landscape for fire danger and learning how to drive a fire engine are tough to do via Zoom.

“Training that cannot be done virtually will either be conducted in smaller groups or a waiver may be given until the training can be completed at a later date,” said Jonathan Groveman, spokesman for the Pacific Southwest Region of the Forest Service, in a statement to The Chronicle.

The biggest challenge may lie ahead as making adjustments, including social distancing, only gets harder come fire season. It’s a reality that fire officials have just begun to ponder.

The big wildfires that burn in California typically draw hundreds, if not thousands, of firefighters into densely packed tent cities, where they work, eat and sleep together for weeks. Norovirusoutbreaks are common, and the more severe coronavirus would probably find ripe breeding grounds there.

If the virus continues to spread, as many medical experts expect, some firefighters might be too sick to make it to the front lines. Already, local fire departments have begun to report that some of their employees are infected by the virus or showing symptoms of the corresponding illness, COVID-19.

“The thing I worry about is firefighter health and wellness,” said Kelly Martin, the recently retired chief of Yosemite National Park’s fire program. “Our firefighting workforce is already stretched to the max in terms of the year-to-year response to these large fires where whole communities are being destroyed. The firefighters are already seeing a toll.”

Martin advises that residents in rural and wooded areas prepare for a less robust response from fire agencies this year. She encourages more home hardening for wildfire and clearing more vegetation around houses. “Don’t always count on the helicopters and the air tankers and the firefighters to be there,” she said.

In Grass Valley (Nevada County), a community in the Sierra foothills that has come together in recent years to address the area’s high fire risk, residents are trying to continue neighborhood fire-prevention work despite the obstacles posed by the coronavirus.

“We’re not going to have our April meeting, and we don’t know about May,” said Susan Rogers, 68, an organizing member of the Nevada County Coalition of Firewise Communities. “But we can put stuff on our website and link people to it. That’s how we’ll keep people updated for now.”

Officials at Cal Fire say they’re also continuing to help communities get prepared. They don’t plan to stop their house-to-house safety inspections, which they do thousands of each spring, nor curtail the work of crews that trim trees and cut fire breaks around homes.

Cal Fire’s academies for new and seasonal firefighters will go on as well. The agency expects to have close to 7,000 total firefighters at work during peak season. “We don’t know what’s going to happen, but rest assured, we will respond accordingly,” said Scott McLean, spokesman for Cal Fire. “That is our job.”

Kurtis Alexander is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: kalexander@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @kurtisalexander

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Refinery Fire in Metro Los Angeles Controlled by Firefighters | Corona, CA

CARSON, Calif. (AP) – Firefighters have controlled a fire at a large refinery in metro Los Angeles.

Massive flames could be seen burning from the Marathon Petroleum Corporation located 13 miles south of downtown Los Angeles. (Source: KABC/CNN)

The fire erupted late Tuesday at the Marathon Petroleum refinery in the city of Carson.

Firefighters were still pouring water onto part of the refinery early Wednesday, but large flames from the fire had disappeared. No injuries were reported. No harmful products were found in the air near the facility.

An explosion preceded the fire in a cooling tower, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department. The department said the fire sparked about 10:50 p.m. Crews confined the fire and shut off the fuel supply around 1 a.m. Wednesday, according to a tweet from the fire department. Authorities could not immediately say what sparked the fire.

Marathon is the largest refinery on the West Coast and the company’s website says the refinery has a crude oil capacity of 363,000 barrels daily.

Copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved. Gray Media Group, Inc., contributed to this report.

For more information about our services, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

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Fire at West L.A. High-Rise Sends Residents Scrambling for Safety; Two Critically Injured | Corona, CA

By Hannah Fry, Alejandra Reyes-Velarde, Luke Money, Sonja Sharp

JAN. 29, 2020 9:54 PM

A fire broke out Wednesday morning in a 25-story Westside residential building, sending residents climbing out windows and fleeing to the rooftop to escape the flames. The blaze, which erupted on the sixth floor at the Barrington Plaza apartments in the 11700 block of Wilshire Boulevard, was reported shortly after 8:30 a.m. by fire crews, who were tending a nearby blaze that had begun earlier.

At least 300 firefighters responded to help battle the fire and evacuate residents inside the building. Eleven residents were injured; seven were sent to a hospital for treatment, including a 3-month-old baby, and four were treated at the scene. Most were suffering from smoke inhalation. Two firefighters suffered minor burns.

One 30-year-old man required CPR and was listed in grave condition Wednesday afternoon, and another 30-year-old man was in critical condition, according to Los Angeles Fire Capt. Erik Scott. “The preliminary information is the two most critically injured … were both in the unit of fire origin,” Scott said.

Fire officials initially reported that some people had jumped from the building to escape the flames. Authorities later clarified that two people contemplated jumping but were rescued by fire officials. Residents crawled on their bellies through thick smoke to escape. One man was seen clinging to a ledge before a fire ladder was hoisted up to him. “This could have been much worse,” Scott said.

Fire officials said residents won’t be allowed back into the building overnight while they investigate the blaze, which was deemed suspicious.

Firefighters took an unconventional approach in battling the flames, hosing the building from the outside in an effort to cool the units before allowing firefighters to tackle the flames inside. The bulk of the fire was on the sixth floor of the 240-unit high-rise, though three other levels were damaged by smoke, officials said.

While some crews focused on the fire inside, others were tasked with evacuations. At least 15 people, some in bathrobes, were airlifted to safety from the building’s rooftop. Officials said it was the first time the fire chopper had been used in rescue efforts. “This was a herculean effort by the members of the Los Angeles Fire Department,” said Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas. “It takes a lot of coordination, and our resources did a good job.”

After an intense, hourlong battle that was made more challenging by strong winds gusting up to 35 mph, firefighters were able to knock down the flames shortly before 10 a.m. Deputy Police Chief Justin Eisenberg said the Los Angeles Police Department and arson investigators were studying the blaze to determine whether it was criminal or accidental. No one has been arrested in connection with the fire, he said. The separate fire that started earlier in the morning about three blocks away also is part of the investigation.

Mackenzie Williams, 25, said she was driving to work at Pure Barre — a fitness studio at Wilshire Boulevard and Granville Avenue — about 9 a.m. when she “saw one firetruck pass by me, then I saw two, then I saw 10, then I saw about 20, so I definitely knew something was going on.” After seeing smoke pouring from the building and the helicopter evacuations, she said, “I just hope everyone is OK over there.”

John Tavakoli was outside when the floor where his grandmother lives burst into flames. As firefighters rushed to evacuate her and her neighbors, his initial horror settled into smoldering rage — another fire like this one had burned here a few years ago, but little had changed. Like others, he blamed the revolving door of short-term renters for unsafe conditions in the building.

“A lot of people Airbnb here.” he said. “They party all night — they’re up until 2 a.m. on a Tuesday.”

Meanwhile, he said, safety issues have gone unaddressed.

“Our rent goes up, utilities go up, but one elevator’s always broken,” he said.

Resident Gavyn Straus stood barefoot on the sidewalk, holding a towel around his American-flag bathing suit as he watched a Sheriff’s Department helicopter hoisting stranded neighbors off the roof. He had been in the pool swimming laps when he turned his head for a breath and noticed the smoke. Right away, he leaped out of the pool and dashed up to alert neighbors on his floor.

The smoke “was like a black wall” on the seventh floor, he said. Higher up, he started banging on doors, telling neighbors to get out.

Twins Kristina and Kimberly Pagano, recent UCLA grads, were asleep in their apartment when the fire broke out. They woke up to the sound of firetrucks. Moments later, the building fire alarm went off, and they rushed outside.

Both immediately thought of the 2013 fire, believed to have been sparked by a cigarette. The building still allows residents to smoke in their units on designated floors, which the sisters had toured before moving in. Like others, they said the building hosts a large number of short-term visitors.

“We always see people with luggage,” Kristina said.

“It’s like a hotel,” Kimberly agreed.

Officials have said that there is no indication the fire was caused by anyone smoking inside or that it broke out in a unit rented as an Airbnb. The building is covered by L.A.’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance, which limits annual rent increases for tenants, but some of its units are exempt from that law, according to housing department spokeswoman Sandra Mendoza. Under an ordinance that went into effect last year, Angelenos cannot rent out their apartments for short stays if they live in a rent-stabilized unit.

The 2013 fire erupted on the 11th floor of the building, displacing up to 150 residents and injuring two people. It also raised concerns about a lack of sprinkler systems in some buildings in Los Angeles. Barrington Plaza was not equipped with a sprinkler system at the time. Because it was built nearly 60 years ago, it does not fall under state regulations later adopted that forced buildings taller than 75 feet to include such fire-suppression systems unless granted an exemption.

Los Angeles has a loophole in its fire code that allows 71 residential high-rises to house tenants despite having no fire sprinklers in the buildings. The structures were built between 1943 and 1974, when new codes required sprinklers.

Deputy Chief Armando Hogan said Wednesday the building still does not have sprinklers. There have been repeated attempts to require older buildings to install sprinkler systems, including a push after Barrington Plaza’s last fire, but landlords at the time argued they would cost too much.

A year ago, the City Council again tabled a proposal to require sprinklers in all buildings. One of the sponsors of the measure said the issue lost momentum amid opposition from landlords, but Councilman Mike Bonin said he will reintroduce a mandate for sprinklers in light of the latest blaze.

Curtis Massey, chief executive of fire safety consulting company Massey Emergency Management, said the sprinkler systems typically seen in modern high-rises quickly douse flames before they have a chance to spread. “It’s like an on-duty 24-hour firefighter that’s able to respond faster in most circumstances to a fire than the building staff or the fire department,” said Massey, whose company has worked on fire preparedness plans for Century Plaza and the Wilshire Grand Center.

Modern fire safety features also include elevator and stairwell-pressurization systems that keep the smoke out of those areas, he said.

In 2014, a group of tenants in the high-rise sued the building’s corporate owner for negligence. According to residents, several fire alarms failed to sound in Barrington Plaza as the October 2013 blaze spread. A door to the roof was locked and the stairwells filled with choking smoke, tenants said. “The conditions at the supposedly high-end apartment building were atrocious,” attorney Mark Geragos said at the time.

Resident Ivo Gerscovich’s 2-year-old daughter and father-in-law were found unconscious in a smoke-filled stairwell above the 20th floor during the 2013 fire. “It’s a deathtrap,” Gerscovich said then. “It’s totally insane and indefensible.” Ben Meiselas, an attorney with Geragos’ firm, said the building “is a relic of the 1960s.” “It conformed to codes of the 1960s, and since that time, they’ve availed themselves through grandfather clauses of the building codes of that bygone era,” he said.

Meiselas said building owners should be required to prominently display whether their structures adhere to current codes. “You have this building that advertises itself as a class-A luxury building, but back in 2013, at least, it really had fundamental safety issues,” he said.

Residents said that they weren’t aware of any additional safety measures. “This situation really scares me,” said Ploy Pengsomboon, who was able to evacuate from her ninth-floor unit only after smelling smoke and hearing firetruck sirens. “I’m scared if one day I’m in a deep sleep and something like this happens. I didn’t get a chance to prepare. They should tell everyone to get out and shouldn’t let us learn about it ourselves.”

The blaring of a fire alarm woke 84-year-old Dan Karzen, who has lived in Barrington Plaza for 20 years. “I had my pajamas on, so I had to hurry to put some clothes on, grab my phone and walk out the door of my 16th-floor apartment,” Karzen said. “I knew it was bad because there was all this smoke.”

After leaving the building, he crossed the street to a strip mall, where he stopped to await word from fire officials. “I don’t know when we’re going to go back in, and I don’t want to leave because all my stuff is up there,” he said.

When Liz Bowers was jolted awake by sirens, she smelled smoke and immediately thought it couldn’t be another fire, remembering the 2013 blaze. But when she looked out her window, there it was. “I was like … it’s Tower A again,” she said. She had a clear view of the flames and clouds of black smoke. She could hear screams and windows blowing out from the heat of the flames. Bowers ran downstairs to the public pool area shared by the two buildings and continued watching as firefighters worked to quell the flames and rescue residents. After witnessing the dramatic events, she decided she’d had enough. She needs to move out.

Bowers thought about all the times she could smell cigarette and marijuana smoke from her apartment, the result of little oversight from building managers, she said. She spent three years knocking on the leasing office’s door, writing letters and making phone calls to building managers. Eventually, she gave up. “They should have put sprinklers in after the [2013] fire,” she said. “They let everybody smoke. There’s a lot of Airbnb [rentals]. You get all these people coming into party and smoke pot. The landlords don’t care.”

Times staff writers Matt Stiles, Dakota Smith, Colleen Shalby, Andrew J. Campa, Emily Alpert Reyes, James Rainey and Matthew Ormseth contributed to this report.

For more information about our services, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

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Canyon Fire Burn Area Winter Preparedness | Corona, CA

When rainfall events are predicted, stay alert, and monitor information sources. Those living in this area should follow city information and think about what to do should they be asked to leave their homes.

Based off predicted rainfall amounts and the duration of time in which it will occur, the National Weather Service (NWS) may issue a Flash Flood Warning. Flash Flood Warnings will be given via television, radio and wireless emergency alerts if your device is compatible. In the event a Flash Flood Warning is issued for the Canyon Fire burn area, evacuation orders may be given. If you are told to evacuate, please adhere to these orders, as they are given to ensure your safety.

The City of Corona has a local notification system that will send telephone notifications to resident and business during an emergency. Only landlines are in the system. Register your cell phone number and select if you would like to receive an additional notification by email and/or text. Visit www.CoronaCA.gov/ENS to register!

Remember when rainfall events are predicted regardless how large or small, stay vigilant as weather can change quickly.

In preparation for upcoming storms, up to ten free pre-filled sandbags are available for Corona residents at Santana Park. There are also sandbags at Fire Station #5 at Canyon Crest for residents of the Canyon Fire burn area.

  • Santana Park: 598 Santana Way
  • Fire Station #5: 1200 Canyon Crest Drive

It is important to remember areas within and downslope of the Canyon Fire burned areas have an increased risk of erosion, flash flooding and debris flows. Remember when rainfall events are predicted regardless how large or small, stay vigilant as weather can change quickly.

For more information about our services, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

CJ Suppression proudly serves Corona, CA and all surrounding areas.